No matter what your age or how brave you are, dental anxiety is hard to escape for most. About 40% of Canadians reportedly suffer from the thought of potential pain, more than what they actually encounter during regular dental hygiene appointments. Some patients suffer more acutely than others. They may have phobias stemming from unpleasant past experiences or are prone to gagging reflexes.
Sedation can work wonders at such times. It helps you relax and go through the procedure without any discomfort at all. But many question the safety of sedation as there are various types. Is one type of sedation safer than the other?
Sedation vs Sleep Dentistry
Although sedation dentistry is commonly mistaken with sleep dentistry, there are a few significant differences. Sedation dentistry uses sedative medication to help patients calm down before the dental procedure. Sleep dentistry, on the other hand, uses general anesthesia that knocks you unconscious for more complex surgeries.
Nitrous Oxide: Commonly, nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is used during some procedures. It takes effect and wears off quickly, without leaving you drowsy. As a result, you can drive home soon after the procedure and resume normal activities.
Valium or Diazepam: Oral sedatives such as valium are taken about an hour or so before the procedure as they take more time than laughing gas to take effect. These leave you conscious but not as anxious. At most, you may feel sleepy or speech may be a bit slurred until the effect wears off.
IV Sedatives: Some sedatives are intravenous or inserted into the veins. The effects are in different stages of consciousness from a deep sleep during the treatment to partial sleep.
Whatever sedation is administered, it helps patients endure the procedures from dental cleanings to treatments, without flinching in any pain or discomfort.
How safe is sedation?
Regarding safety, as with any anesthetic procedure, the effect of sedation really depends on the expertise of the dental professional. A small percentage of dentist anesthesiologist, oral or maxillofacial surgeons, who are accredited in sleep sedation and general anesthesia are competent. They go over the patient’s dental and family history to determine if the patient is a good candidate for the procedure before administering it.
Except for anesthesia, sedation dentistry does not knock anyone fully unconscious but instead, offers a soothing relaxation that helps in a smoother experience for both the dental professional and the patient. If you are booked for a dental appointment, you may want to find out about safe sedation methods from your dentist to make an informed choice.
Forest Hill Family Dental, Kitchener
Forest Hill Family Dental has been recognized as one of the top dentistry practices in Kitchener and Waterloo. Our team of caring professionals provide general and cosmetic dentistry services with customized care to ensure a pleasant experience. Our dentists and hygienists are highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. If you or a family member is anxious about dental appointments, call us to discuss safe sedative alternatives.